5 Hidden Gems of Sicily

10th July, 2017
Whether you want to visit Sicily’s fascinating archaeological sites, walk along the sandy beaches or enjoy the delicious cuisine, when you visit this part of the world you will be captivated. While the most iconic and popular attractions on the island are guaranteed to excite you, sometimes it is better to break away from the tourist trail to achieve the full sense of a location. With this in mind, we have put together a list of some hidden gems for you to discover when staying in one of our luxury villas in Sicily

The Norman castle in Erice



The Norman castle in Erice is also known as the Venus Castle due to its history being related to the goddess of fertility. Where the fortress lies now, it used to be a temple dedicated to Potnia, the goddess of fecundity, worshipped by the Elymians, an ancient pre-Roman population that inhabited this part of Western Sicily.  

In the 12th century, the Normans used the stones of the temple to build the castle, which was restored after a long period of decadence in the 19th century by Count Agostino Piepoli. He had the pentagonal tower rebuilt after it has been destroyed in the 1400s and created a beautiful English-style garden, open to the public and destined to become a symbol of the town.

Windmills



Located on a small island off the west coast of Sicily, Mozia is steeped in heritage and history. There are many archaeological sites that are based around the Phoenician settlement in the Mediterranean. However, it is most famous for the windmills which provide the island with a picturesque setting and create a great photo opportunity. 

Gole dell’Alcantara



Situated below the hills of the Etna, the Alcantara river canyon was formed by the erosional process of the Alcantara river by lava flows dating from an eruption in prehistoric times. You can take a guided walk where visitors can wade along the river bed or follow marked trails through the impressive natural scenery. The unique natural environment can also be admired from the top, which can be reached on foot or by lift.

Catacombe dei cappuccini



Maybe not to everyone’s taste, the Catacombe dei cappuccini consists of 8000 mummies placed here from 17C to 19C. The mummies have been preserved due to the very dry air. Initially, the catacombs were intended as a burial place for friars, but with time, prominent people also came to be buried there. The last burials date from the 1920s. A two-year-old little girl was also buried here, the only one that was not mummified but embalmed using a special procedure, which left her virtually intact as if she were asleep.

Segesta Temple 



High up in a rocky area towards the west of Sicily, is this beautiful and magical temple. Segesta was originally founded by the Elymian people, one of the native people of Sicily. It was later ruled by the Romans but declined in importance before being finally abandoned in around the 13th century.  

The 5th century BC Doric temple is truly magnificent as it rises out of the landscape, its golden stone reflecting and almost radiating light on a sunny day. Though never completed, it is one of the best-preserved examples of a Greek temple, and so for the ancient history or archaeology fan, it is unmissable.  

A short walk from the temple takes you to the Greek (and later Roman) theatre, which is an open Amphitheatre where in the summer Greek plays are staged.   As the site of an ancient and important town which was only abandoned in the Middle Ages, Segesta also boasts the archaeological remains of many other times and cultures.  

Although gazing at the 36 Doric columns is enjoyable, some say what's even better about the site is its surrounding view.
 

Have you visited Sicily before? Let us know what your favourite hidden gems are by using our social media channels.

Image credit: Rachel Friedman, Davide D’Amico, Riccardo M, Gmihail and Felipe Garcia SaveSaveSaveSave